Vail Christian High School closing upsets students, parents
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Vail Christian High School will close at the end of this school year, Head of School Randy Lowe announced Friday.
After more than a year of negotiations, Vail Christian officials failed to reach an agreement with bond holders over the school’s debt.
“Everyone did everything within their power to keep the school open,” Lowe said in a press release. “And we remain most proud of our students and staff. The anxiety of this year has been overwhelming yet students and staff alike performed gracefully and with the highest levels of professionalism and integrity.”
Earlier this month, bond holders asked for more time to consider Vail Christian’s offer to buy back its debt at a reduced rate – a delay school officials had seen as a good sign. However, the deal fizzled when bond holders failed to respond to the offer by the deadline the school had set, Lowe said.
Vail Christian officials had seen the deal as essential to keeping the school open. The bonds had included $12 million the school borrowed to build the school and its gymnasium. The private school has also been grappling with the recession and a resulting drop in enrollment.
“The financial gap was just too great to allow the school to remain open,” Lowe said in the release. “I have been in Christian secondary education my entire professional career, and our communities within the Vail valley are losing a tremendous asset. This is a very sad moment.”
Students and parents were upset by the news Friday.
“I think we’re all kind of crushed and worried about what we’re going to do next year,” said junior Alexis Ellsworth from Gypsum.
Junior Micaela McGuckin said she, too, was “really upset.”
“I’ve been talking to my classmates,” she said. “We don’t really want to separate but there’s not a lot of options.”
With many students crying about the loss of their school Friday, parents questioned where they will send their kids next year in the absence of the valley’s only Christian high school.
“It’s just really unfortunate because it’s the only Christian high school that’s available on the Western slope,” said Edwards resident Carmel McGuckin, who has two children enrolled at Vail Christian. “It’s going to be a completely devastating loss.”
Edwards resident Robb Hamina has two sons at Vail Christian, one in ninth grade and another in 12th.
“I’m very sad about it,” he said. “It’s a great school.”
Vail Christian has about 89 students and at least 14 teachers, Lowe said.
Teachers also were coping Friday with the news that they would lose their jobs. Doug Bruce has been a math teacher at the school for three years and coaches girls’ basketball.
“I’m kind of surprised,” he said Friday. “Really disappointed, really sad.”
The school was established in 1998. The future of the building itself rests in the hands of the bond holders, Lowe said. Richard Moche, a contact for the bond holders, could not be reached for comment.
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The family of Rosie Ferrin has worked to clean up and make safe again the old schoolhouse in downtown New Castle. Ferrin died this summer and had owned the building that included classrooms turned into apartments for years.